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How heavy equipment air filters work

How heavy equipment air filters work

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When you are out in the field or on the construction site, you expect your heavy equipment to work and operate as efficiently as possible.

However, even the best heavy equipment operators can encounter machinery malfunctions and breakdowns if they do not keep up equipment maintenance or push the equipment to its limits too often.

As far as equipment maintenance is concerned, keeping air filters clean needs to be one of the top priorities in order to ensure machinery works properly and efficiently. Because air filters help keep engines running smoothly, a dirty filter can very quickly throw a wrench in the works of any operation that involves heavy equipment and diesel engines.

Keep air filters clean to protect heavy equipment diesel engines

Some people may think that heavy equipment comes with heavy defenses that can fend for themselves when exposed to elements like dirt, dust, moisture and all sorts of other grime. Unfortunately, while equipment technology has continued to improve, there is not yet a foolproof way to avoid all problems, malfunctions and part breakdowns.

The best way to do that is to keep up on regular maintenance schedules for all equipment. That includes making sure air filters that protect diesel engines are kept clean so they can do their part in keeping out dirt.

Air filters protect engines from silica

The diesel engines found in today’s heavy equipment and machinery require very clean air in order to run as intended. This is why it is critical to keep the air filters that protect these engines as dirt-free and clean as possible.

But it’s not the dirt and dust specifically that heavy equipment owners and operators have to worry about. It’s something found in all that dust on the work site called silica that actually causes the issues for air filters and engines. ‘

Silica is the primary ingredient found in dust. It is also very abrasive. Once it finds its way through an air filter and into an engine, silica begins to behave like a lapping compound. This then can allow for it to mix with lube oil and cause a number of problems in engines, including blown turbocharges and dusted engines.

How heavy equipment air filters work to protect engines

When it comes to most newer models of heavy equipment, you are likely dealing with a two-stage air filter. These filters clean the air that is being taken in by the engine before it reaches the combustion chambers.

These types of air filters have an inner filter and an outer filter. The inner filter is smaller and serves as a safety feature for the part. It is there to serve as a final backup if the larger, or outer, filter would break or fail to work. This could happen either while the machinery is in operation or even when air filters are being examined, changed or cleaned if the person doing the work is not taking extra care around the filter.

When they are working correctly, though, air filters keep out all that silica-containing dust. They can also be more effective after they have been used for a while. This is because the openings in the air filter element are more open right out of the box.

After they have been used while the equipment is in operation, though, they slowly gather a little more dust and dirt, which closes up those openings even more. This actually can improve the part’s effectiveness in keeping engines safe from silica.

Use precleaners in extra dirty environments

Sometimes, even the air filters themselves need a little boost to increase performance because the environment in which the equipment is operating is very dirty or dusty.

That’s when precleaners are recommended. In some extra dirty environments, precleaners can be installed on certain types of equipment. These precleaners work by spinning incoming dust and either send heavier particles outward or collect the particles in a trap.

Precleaners, if applicable, can increase the life of an air filter element and keep their elements intact so that they work as they should.

Keep an eye on air filters in your equipment

Nobody wants to face the many issues that can be brought about and compounded upon by engine failure in heavy equipment and machinery. So, it’s always a good idea to make checking air filters a part of any regular maintenance routines for your equipment.

You don’t always have to open up the machinery to get to the filter and see how dirty it is, either. In fact, there are gauges that can be installed (or come already installed) on many types of machinery that will notify you when an air filter has become too dirty and may not start to do its job as well as it should.

But you shouldn’t be afraid to lay eyes on the filter when you need to. It is important, after all, to always make sure this part is in good working condition.

Yes, it’s safe to clean air filters

If you find that an air filter has become too dirty, then it’s time to do something about it.

Some equipment manufacturers warn against cleaning air filters and always recommend changing filters. This can be a higher cost for owners, though, and is based on the assumption that the person cleaning the air filter is not using the right tools to make sure they don’t damage the filter.

If you have the right tools, then it is absolutely safe to clean an air filter. Plus, cleaning air filters come with all the benefits of having a properly working air filter – and it's cheaper than having the filters replaced every time.

Shop Filter Blaster products today

But before you start cleaning your heavy equipment air filters, you need to make sure you have the right tools that won’t damage the filter element.

We have designed our Filter Blaster products to ensure the air filter element cannot be damaged – and the cleaning rotor won’t be damaged, too. You can shop our products today or learn more about how they work.